At 24 years old, after six years of frustration looking for work, Phillip Yordonopulo is working in a place that he loves, sharing his passion for the stars at the Ballarat Municipal Observatory and Museum.

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Phillip has Aspergers, and has found it difficult to find an employer willing to give him the opportunity to show his considerable intelligence and skills. After six years of being out of work, a situation which led to homelessness and personal struggles, Phillip found the support he needed to get his Hospitality Certificate, and a pathway to a dream job at the Ballarat Observatory.

Phillip in front of one of the vintage telescopes at Ballarat Observatory

Interested in the stars and mathematics, Phillip has a great love for the Observatory. He visited with his father as a child, and now has found his niche working in the café and guiding visitors through this historical site along with the manager Judith Bailey.

The Observatory on Mount Pleasant in Ballarat is managed by the Ballarat Municipal Observatory and Museum Board – Ballarat Astronomical Society and has one of the best collections of 18th-21st Century working telescopes in regional Australia. The Observatory also houses the first disability telescope in Australia which was custom built in Victoria, a NASA Radio Jove small radio telescope and a Camera Obscura Room. The Observatory is one of the oldest working educational observatories in Australia.

Phillip is testament to what perseverance and the development of self-belief can achieve, especially when the right connections are made between qualifications and paths to employment. His message to other young people in his situation is simply “don’t give up.”

Phillip was supported by Jobs Victoria Partner WestVic. WestVic began in 1984 as a community based group training organisation, building apprenticeship, employment and training offerings in south-west of Victoria. Today they continue to support local people with employment and training opportunities.

Find out more about WestVic

Find out more about the Ballarat Observatory